On my wedding day, I didn’t have a bridesmaid. I had a brides butler. But although I didn’t have any of the traditional bridesmaids activities or pre-marriage rituals, I couldn’t have picked any other person to be my brides-butler. And nobody else could have been a better choice.
Simon has been in my life for as long as I’ve had any conscious awareness. Our parents worked together when we were born – infact, I wonder sometimes if the birth of Simon inspired my conception. Born in mid-February, he (and Anson – born towards the end of February) are both 9 months older than me. So it *is* possible… (*shudder*)
Throughout my life, from childish games, to massive play date sessions at each other’s houses, to school playground protection and right up to post-uni emotional crumbles, Simon has always been there. Anyone who knows him is clear that he is one of the rare breed of Good Guys. He’s a rock to many, many people. He’s easy-going, diplomatic, silent and strong. And though I have no right to, I have felt a strong claim of protection over his happiness for as long as I’ve known him. I would not be surprised if I was not the only person to feel this way.
You see, you don’t meet people like Simon very often. We click. We name the song within the first bar. We know the same cheesy 80s dance moves. We know all the lyrics from a certain era. We get the same pop cultural references. We grew up together and knew each other at our most awkward phases. There is no one in the world I feel more at ease with – with the single exception of my husband. I don’t know anybody else like him. He is, to me, my brother (from another mother) – the big brother I always wished I had.
Today, I had the privilege of witnessing his marriage to Alyson, with his best man, Anson, by his side at an intimate ceremony of family and friends. Now, I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve battled with my emotions over my connection with Simon on numerous occasions over the years since I’ve married and had children. The connection I’ve always felt for him is one that has been given diminished attention as life has developed. With dating, working, settling down – there is less and less emotional space for such a friendship. It gets put to one side, unattended. But the emotions never retire – they just wait until needed. As the day for Simon’s marriage grew closer, I had a myriad of emotions and reactions to it. Mostly confused – I wasn’t sure if I qualified for any sort of right to be there anymore. Coupled with this, there have been a number of tough life events for both Simon and Anson – beyond my life experience and ability to comprehend. Though my heart broke and I yearned to help, I was often at a loss at how best to be there for either of them as I would find myself frequently at a loss for words around them, overwhelmed by emotion.
So, today myself and my little family attended Simon’s wedding to Alyson, excited and eager to be able to share in such a special celebration for him, but also a little unsure about how I would feel about the day. Knowing very little about Alyson, I only knew to trust in Simon’s unwavering ability to make clear and even-handed decisions. He has never been one to be rushed or pressured into a wrong decision and that alone should have been reason enough to put any unease I felt to rest.
The day started with a lovely, small and intimate ceremony. Beautiful and elegant. Special. Perfectly fitting. Then moved onto the Chinese wedding banquet – noisy, busy, big and necessary for our culture. Handled with big smiles and a good natured attitude throughout, the newlyweds took it all in their stride and showed little fatigue. For all British-born Chinese people, you will be impressed to hear that the lobsters were big/plentiful and juicy, and each and every single dish was *very* generous in portions. But the real stamp of personality from the newlyweds came in the evening reception. Where the photo montage of both their childhoods brought lumps to many throats – culminating in a truly heart bursting collection of photos showing their life together so far. The pure happiness, love and joy – and memories of such special people so recently lost to us – were poignantly selected and perfectly presented. There was not a dry eye in the house as we all saw with our own eyes how wonderfully and deeply happy the new Mr and Mrs Tam are together. It was then I realised what I had been holding on to – the sense of protection over my “big brother”, the need to know that he is okay – it dissipated into thin air as the tears flowed uncontrolled. Simon is truly happy, and it made my heart sing to see it.
As if that was not enough emotion already, a tearful Simon then took to the microphone to deliver his speech. For all his strengths and amazing qualities, one of his lesser known outstanding talents, is his speech writing. As he began to read from his prepared notes, and his emotions came forth, I was reminded (as I often am at weddings nowadays) of the Father of the Bride speech he wrote for his now late father, to deliver at his eldest sister (Tessa)’s wedding in 2006. It was hands down, the best speech I had ever heard. The delivery was perfect and the emotion was true. So when Simon began his speech, he brought his father into the room. And with Anson at his side, to bolster the emotions, we all saw before us the evidence of a truly amazing friendship and brotherhood – reflecting and superceding the friendship of their late fathers before them. It was emotional, raw and authentic. They are so blessed to have each other and we were so blessed to be able to share that moment in the same room. I struggle to recall it without feeling it all over again…
And so I arrived home late tonight, with my husband and children finally tumbled into bed at midnight and find myself writing out this blogpost – to say all the things I wanted to say at the wedding but couldn’t find a way, or the words wouldn’t come… The words began for Simon… but actually are largely for Alyson.
Today I learned that my heart can burst at the sight of seeing my “big brother” finally, truly happy. Today I learned that he is in the safe hands of a wonderful woman who sees the magical qualities that are present in Simon. Today I saw him marry a woman who will also help him to grow and develop, improving together in their future as husband and wife.
I know I’m not real, blood family. I know I have little claim over Simon as a sensitive surrogate “little sister” he never really chose. And I know I’m rarely in your lives as I have my own life to keep busy with. But know that you are a very welcome modification to the wonderful Simon that I know and love. His happiness has meant more to me than I realised and seeing you both happily married together has closed a chapter that I had never realised was unfinished. Any chapters from here are now for you both to write and build together and I can’t wait to hear about them whenever the opportunity arises. I wish you both a true, open, communicative and nurturing marriage together. May you always have joy in your conversations, and comfort in your silences. May your love for each other bring you strength and peace in times of trouble. And may your journeys and experiences together enrich your lives with bounty you never knew could be possible.
With much love, blessings, good health and congratulations to you both on this, your very special wedding day, and for all the days to follow.